Hoboken business owners demand assistance from the city after fire

Dozens of small business owners in Hoboken who lost everything in a deadly fire last month say they are fed up with being patient. They say that they can’t file insurance claims because they can’t get back inside of the building.
“This is our lives, and we are a family. Fifteen employees have made this their home. And we are devastated,” says Marilyn Tomasso, owner of Manhattan Neon Signs.
The fire was inside the Chambord Building in Hoboken just before Christmas.
Manhattan Neon Signs is a family business that Tomasso ran with her late son Peter before he died from cancer in 2019.
“He would be so devastated. That thought makes me so sad,” she says. “We want Hoboken to recognize who we are and what we meant to this community and hear our plight and listen to our plight and help.”
Owners of the nearly 80 businesses inside Chambord took their call for help to the streets on Friday, battling the bitter fold to hold a rally and march to City Hall. They are demanding answers, assistance and access. They also acknowledged and paid respects to the two people who died in the fire.
“We’ve been left in the dark for 30 days now, and still no prospect of when exactly we will get access to the building,” says Carl Augustin, from The Vegan Warehouse. “We just want to raise awareness and put pressure on the people associated.”
They confronted one of the building’s owners during the march. Co-owner Nick Petruzelli says that it is out of his hands at this point.
"I really feel horrible, I understand you have businesses there. We’re trying to get everyone in to get belongings out. But the building’s severely damaged. There's only so much we can do,” Petruzelli says.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s office says that they are working with the owners to try to get the inside and help find them new space, as well as offering legal advice.
The city tells News 12 New Jersey that the building owners’ engineer is taking too long to issue a report. They plan to send in their own engineer next week. This would allow the tenants to go into the building to salvage their belongings and start the insurance claim process.
A spokesperson for the city also says there are no plans to condemn or demolish the building any time soon.
The business owners have also started a website to make their stories known.